Double Take

Taking a second look at life experiences

Archive for the category “Lifestyle”

Say goodbye to fraternities and sororities (if you live in Berkeley, CA)

The Berkeley City Council voted to change its municipal code to reflect new gender neutral names. This will eliminate all masculine and feminine pronouns.

Some changes are obvious and already elicit a ho-hum instead of a really??? :

OLD: Fireman               NEW: Firefighter

OLD: Repairman           NEW: Repairers

Not so obvious is this one:

OLD: Manhole              NEW: Maintenancehole (I don’t know why, but this word just sounds gross).

Also scheduled for the update are the words fraternity and sorority.

They will be changed to….wait, I bet you’ve already thought of this one, yes? 

Here is the ‘newspeak’:

“collegiate Greek system residence”

Did you ace it? 

Sorry, but this one went over the top for me.

The city will spend $600 to update the law, but there’s no telling how much it will cost in human (can we still say that?) time and effort to make the changes.

I’m also just wondering what other concerns were on the docket on the days they spent discussing this item, since it was first raised as a topic in March. (Not that it concerns me that much, I don’t even live there)

If you have a lot of free time on your hands, you can read the law here.

(when you click on the link, if you want to go straight to the list of actual words that will be changed, scroll to page 8).

Ruth Schapira 

Brave new “bot”world starts in California

Is this a ‘natural’ bot?

“Morning Brew” enters my Inbox every morning, and gives me just what I want: short blurbs about what’s going on in the world so I actually feel that I am able to keep up.

It’s a somewhat edgy deal, with short quips and funny takes on the news of the day, with a readership of people presumably like them….mostly 30-somethings (I read somewhere that millennials don’t like to be called millennials, so I am being accommodating).

The style is quick, to the point, and never disappoints.

By the time I finish my last sip of coffee, I am news-satiated.

You’ll notice that I didn’t provide a link to the site. That’s because every single day I am asked to refer a friend. There are all sorts of perks for doing that, “free” mugs, T-shirts, and more things I don’t need or want.

The more socially savvy you are, the more those perks add up. Can you imagine all the tweets, posts, and shares? (see below)

It’s annoying but I don’t blame them. I’m sure it works (see below).

Because I don’t want to feel guilty about never providing a link to anyone, and since I like it so much and wanted you to know about it, you can read it here.

So, my intention is not for you to sign up but just for you to see what I mean about their edgy style.

Of course, if you do want to sign up, you can do that there, or here .

So, obviously their perks do work for many, many other 30-something people (who get to be an “Insider”), because already, they’ve spun off a new line extension, called “Emerging Tech Brew” —- these 30-somethings are just so darn intimidating aren’t they?

[yes, I subscribed to that too, but am reconsidering because I just don’t want to drink that much coffee].

Back to the point of this blog. (I did have my coffee today, promise).

This blurb in the Tech Brew caught my eye:

As of 10 days ago, all online bots in California are required by law to declare they’re not human.

You can read that again. I did.

So, of course I had to unpack that. Ha! I was wondering exactly how and when the bot would declare that to me?

Would it be in the very beginning of the relationship?

What would people way older than me think about this? Would they even know what a ‘bot’ is? Just what would be their experience with a pop-up chat box anyhow? Interesting to think about.

I clicked on the link to read more. There were some definitions of ‘bot’. ‘online’ ‘online platform’ and ‘person’.

Here’s the definition of person (note, all the words in bold are my choice).

(d) “Person” means a natural person, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, joint venture, association, estate, trust, government, governmental subdivision or agency, or other legal entity or any combination thereof.
So, what would an unnatural person be like? Too much makeup? Not easygoing? Not into sustainability? 
I am not sure I want to think of combinations right now.
Here’s the law (again, just note what I bolded, no other explanation needed):
 (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to use a bot to communicate or interact with another person in California online, with the intent to mislead the other person about its artificial identity for the purpose of knowingly deceiving the person about the content of the communication in order to incentivize a purchase or sale of goods or services in a commercial transaction or to influence a vote in an election. A person using a bot shall not be liable under this section if the person discloses that it is a bot.

I leave the rest to your good sense of humor. Have a laugh, or two.

All I know is that the next time I interact with a bot, I want to know what its intentions are.

(But I didn’t say that, a bot did).

Ruth Schapira 

5 of the Most Useless “Helpful” Things

Any guesses for what this is?

Any guesses for what this is? (answer below)

by Ruth Schapira

Here is a short list of things that either don’t do what they say they’re supposed to do, or are so useless, that I’m left wondering why?

  1. A metal (non-rust?) and canvas wagon made especially for the beach, to shlep all your stuff in, in order to make the beach feel more like you’re in your own backyard (I’ve actually seen this on the beach, filled with hammocks, beach pillows, comfy chairs, drink holders, and assorted coolers). The funny thing is that it’s called “Beachcomber”(definition of beachcomber:  a vagrant who makes a living by searching beaches for articles of value and selling them). Really? If you were really ‘beach-combing’ you’d get by on a lot less. I have to concede that this $100 item (approximate) would be most handy for parents who are taking their little children the beach. They really do need to bring the whole house along in order to have a more pleasant experience.
  2. A CD Audio book I’m listening to now is called “The Power of Less”. The trouble is, there are FOUR CD’s to go through, many of which contain content that’s being repeated…over and over again. Not really “Less” is it?
  3. An “instant” spout that you have to somehow shove into a huge watermelon (that you’ve already taken the time to hollow out) and pour a beverage into for dispensing. So, the watermelon lasts exactly how long before it gets all yucky? I don’t know about you, but when I take the time to open and slice a watermelon, enough juice comes out of it that I can just pour that liquid into a container for dispensing. NO?
  4. An ‘inflatable buffet’ that ostensibly you blow up in order to fill it with food, then float said thing in your pool. I guess those clever people who invented this item assume that people using it would be floating in a pool, barely making a move. Otherwise, any movement (like swimming?) would cause too much splashing, thereby getting your food wet. I guess if you’re that immobile, using the additional effort to get out of the pool to eat is just too, well, annoying.
  5. The item above is a vintage cherry pitter. At some point, someone thought it much too tedious to pit cherries and decided to invent a humanoid-looking tool. Not to be outdone, a chef’s catalog I browsed through featured a cherry pitter that pits 6 cherries at a time. This one had no interesting features, but seemed to require some bit of skill to get all the cherries positioned just perfectly in order for you to push down on the spindles to extract the pit. Of course, if you do that enough, I imagine you’d create quite a mess inside that thing. However, you might just get enough juice from those cherries to put into your handy watermelon jug, which you will probably be lugging to the beach in your brand new wagon,of course.

The Special Sweetness of the Once-A-Year Holiday Party


Do you dread or anticipate the obligatory company holiday party?

I’m surprised by how much I look forward to attending my husband’s holiday party every year. Here’s my list of some of the reasons for why I enjoy this experience so much:

  • It’s not really a holiday party, but a festive meal served for about 4o people, family style, which encourages interaction and discussions about the food. The food is absolutely delicious! (envision sautéed garlicky spinach on top of crostini; a light caesar salad with shaved parmesan, light sacchetti  pasta, filled with ricotta cheese and white truffles in a white sauce garnished with slivered almonds; lemon-infused salmon with a lightly crumbed topping; and then tiramisu on large platters, adorned with lightly filled miniature cannolis. Are you with me yet? Do you need to read the rest??)
  • There’s something special for me in checking in with everyone to see how they’ve fared over a year’s time, since we don’t see each other socially. That might be perceived as a negative, but for me, it’s having defined boundaries for a different type of relationship.
  • Hearing about their children’s accomplishments, and sharing their pride in the details about their stage of life, gives my own memories a boost as I think about my own children and where they are in life.
  • Conversations started a year ago, seem to build upon themselves a year later. It’s not like starting all over…but instead a way to delve deeper into subjects every time you meet. Over the years, the connections get just a little more solidified, and that process is fun to experience.

So, have you attended a holiday party yet? Do you love the experience or dread it? Please share  here!


photo courtesy of Creative Commons. 

Home Is Where The Heart (And Work) Is

Thankfully, this is not my house.

First, I need to say that I’m grateful that my husband and I own a home.

But we’d be the first to say (and have said) that basically, when it comes right down to it, we have no business owning one.

Why? It’s not like we haven’t worked hard and earned the privilege.

It’s simply because we’re not handy. How would you know this? There are tell-tale signs, I assure you.

For one, when you walk into our garage, there’s no workbench staking a claim by the back wall.

Or walls of pegboards, filled with dangling bright orange power tools, organized in size order, their cords neatly tied below just waiting to be taken (literally) for a spin.

There are no bookmarked YouTube videos that show us how to spackle, stain, or paint.

Although once we did do a search for a video that would help us figure out why we heard water running from one of our toilets. We bookmarked one of those, then decided to call the plumber after all. (He came, fixed the thing in about 5 minutes, charged a bundle, but in the end, had to return because we heard the water running again. This caused us some satisfaction, I have to say, because it was apparent that even the plumber might not be so handy at times).

We can’t rely on our neighbors, as my parents used to. (This I wonder about often now, like how did they happen to know an electrician and a plumber, who would simply stop by and fix things as part of a neighborly visit?).

Our friends aren’t members of trade unions, and don’t have skills in any of those practical areas I wish I had taken up in high school, if it weren’t such a stigma at the time. You know, classes like wood shop, car maintenance, or budgeting…courses with content that would be infinitely more helpful to me today than let’s say Advanced Algebra. (Even my home economics course was only minorly helpful, as the only recipe I remember cooking was apple fritters and I haven’t made that even once since graduating high school).

We love our home, but are not fans of the intense time and responsibility involved—the fixing, tinkering, replacing, inspecting, and weeding (even though I have to admit that the process taught me a valuable lesson).

Apartment dwellers or home owners who rent out their property have this thing beat. They use a management company and let them do all the work. Sign us up.

Photo by Ruth Schapira 

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